There are some questions that are not deserving a downvote considering the circumstances, such as when the OP is obviously not accustomed to using the the site and thinks that it is pretty much a forum. In such cases, closing the question with a comment is the better solution in my opinion.

An example: How do I get Ubuntu working on a Dell XPS 15? Question screenshot

Clearly, the OP has only 1 rep, yet someone took it upon themselves to downvote a question that was clearly not deserving a downvote (it wasn't the best of questions but the OP or anyone else could easily get that impression).

Thoughts? Am I thinking correctly on this or am I wrong? I'd like to get some opinions and discussion on how we should handle such questions.


5 Answers 5


Closing a question as off-topic or not a real question gives it an automatic downvote (the downvote is recorded as by the Community user).

There is nothing wrong with a bad question being downvoted. You should never upvote a question just to compensate: upvote only if you think the question deserves an upvote.

If the question is reopened, the automatic downvote will be removed. (This wasn't always the case, but it is now.)

I disagree that the question you cite is “clearly not deserving a downvote”. There is too little information in the question to say anything — this isn't only a bad Stack Exchange question, it would a bad forum post too. The asker hasn't said anything about what kind of problem they're worried about. The proper reaction to this kind of question is to vote to close as not a real question and leave a comment saying what information is missing from the question, which has been done here.

Delete votes have nothing to do with downvotes. You should always give the asker some time to improve a question. In particular, the ability to delete closed questions before 48 hours are up when you have at least 20k reputation is only for extreme cases, do not make it a matter of course. There is no consensus on how long to wait, but two days is a minimum for most users with the delete privilege for a reason. See How long should I wait before deleting a closed question? on the main meta.

  • Thanks for the data. We don't all have a thorough understanding of how each part of the system works. Aug 12, 2012 at 22:29
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    Thanks Gilles. This is a very informative answer, and changes my perspective.
    – RolandiXor
    Aug 13, 2012 at 2:05

Sometimes we should based on our better judgement down vote closed questions to work around delete votes.

This would exclude duplicates so we could use them as signs to help SEO.

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    Delete votes have nothing to do with downvotes. The ability to vote to delete is sometimes related to the posts's score, but that is not in itself a reason to downvote. As for duplicates, most of them should be kept, not primarily for SEO but in order to be search fodder (i.e. they're kept for the sake of searchers, not for the sake of giving the site a better Google rank). Aug 12, 2012 at 22:26
  • @Gilles, I believe you may have missed the part where some users are using downvotes on zero vote questions to get the system to auto-delete at UTC 00:00 Aug 12, 2012 at 22:28
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    It would be better to use delete votes instead. Aug 12, 2012 at 22:29
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    @Gilles I agree. and up-ticked the comment. I was just making sure you understood the context of my CW answers. Aug 12, 2012 at 22:36
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    I know they don't all state your opinion :) Aug 12, 2012 at 22:39
  • @Gilles, also the majority of the universe here don't have delete permissions, so downvoting is the next best thing they can do.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Aug 24, 2012 at 17:15

I won't name names, but there is a certain element in the community who down vote closed, "low quality" questions, because within 30 days (and for older closed questions, a week) they are deleted, and then "aren't cluttering up the site". (And I'm not spying on people's vote patterns - actually, I can't. They have stated this publicly in the past.)

The community user also gives out random downvotes, so those are two possible sources.

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    This certain element should stop wait at least 48 hours to vote to delete closed questions, instead of abusing downvotes. There's [no consensus](How long should I wait before deleting a closed question?), but the 48 hour minimum is by design. The Community user does not downvote randomly: the automatic downvote is for questions closed as off-topic or NaRQ. Aug 12, 2012 at 22:25
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    Couple of things: The question will only be deleted after 30 days of creation. And the deletion script runs every week.
    – jokerdino Mod
    Aug 13, 2012 at 4:30
  • @jokerdino: I stand corrected.
    – jrg
    Aug 15, 2012 at 10:42
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    @Gilles: I think jrg is referring to the "stealth downvote" method of deletion, which does not involve casting a close or delete vote.
    – ish
    Aug 15, 2012 at 11:29
  • @izx You mean relying on the automatic deletion of old, downvoted closed questions? Eventually deleting closed questions is something we're supposed to do, only the tools to do it when you aren't a moderator kind of suck, so why not, as long as you only do it on closed questions. Aug 15, 2012 at 12:13
  • @Gilles, from what I have gathered in chat, this is the automatic deletion of non-closed, downvoted, >30-days old questions with no answers.
    – ish
    Aug 15, 2012 at 12:16
  • @izx Ah, ok. I thought this thread was about closed questions only. I oppose the feature that deletes non-closed questions, so I also oppose this use of it. Aug 15, 2012 at 12:28

No we should almost never down vote closed questions. Delete votes exist for a reason.

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    Questions should generally be downvoted if they're not a useful addition to the site. The reasons to downvote are not the same as the reasons to close, e.g. an interesting but off-topic question may be upvoted whereas an on-topic question whose answer is easily found in the FAQ may be downvoted but not closed. Aug 12, 2012 at 22:28

Yes we should carte-blanche down vote closed questions to work around delete votes.

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